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The Anne Frank Project: Making the World Seem Smaller

The Anne Frank Project: Making the World Seem Smaller

Posted: May 3, 2012
Updated: May 4, 2012

Drew Kahn, professor of theater, spent eight days in March regaling travelers off the northern island of New Zealand with stories about the Anne Frank Project, the theater department’s connection to Rwanda, and the healing power of storytelling.

The staff of the World, a huge private yacht that houses both permanent residents and temporary guests, invited Kahn on board as a distinguished guest lecturer, part of its ongoing enrichment program.

“It was an incredible place, and I felt honored to be invited,” said Kahn, who was accompanied by his wife, Maria.  

The World found Kahn through his participation last summer in Semester at Sea, which is operated by the nonprofit Institute for Shipboard Education. On that trip, Kahn lectured about the Anne Frank Project, an annual three-day conference he directs that examines topics such as intolerance, hatred, and genocide.

On the World, Kahn presented four lectures: “From American Theater to the Maori Haka Dance: How Storytelling Through Performance Can Heal the World”; “Finding Anne Frank in Rwanda and New Zealand: A Diary of Universal Genocide”; “The Power of Storytelling I: Conflict Resolution for American and New Zealand Politics”; and “The Power of Storytelling II: A New Educational Paradigm for the World.”

"I was pleased with the audience’s connection to the work and the enthusiasm of the dialogue afterward," Kahn said. “They were really interested in the power of storytelling, using theater outside of traditional theater, and hearing about the Rwanda experience.”

The residents of the ship hail from all over the world—from North America to South Africa to countries throughout Europe.

“The residents have a bit of wanderlust and change-the-world quality about them,”Kahn said. “They are wealthy people primarily because of their incredible innovation and creativity.”

One interesting aspect of the trip, Kahn said, was the shattered assumptions about the very wealthy. “The people we connected with were curious, interested human beings without pretension. I continue to stay in contact with a few of them. That’s my favorite part about traveling—breaking assumptions you may have.”

Soon after returning, Kahn had the opportunity to bring a little of the world to Buffalo. On April 23 he and his students involved with Anne Frank Project presented a gift, a hand-woven basket, to Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, ’83, from Mutakwasuku Yvonne, mayor of Muhanga, Rwanda, Buffalo’s sister city. The students met her during their trip to Rwanda in January (picture at top).

“They are amazing basket weavers in Africa, of course, but baskets are also a sign of wealth,” Kahn said. “They are a keeper of all things sacred.”

Brown loved the gift, Kahn said. “He was very excited about the Anne Frank Project and also asked the students about Rwanda.”

The chance to meet with the mayor and talk about such an amazing opportunity furthered connected Rwanda to Buffalo for the students and made the world seem a little smaller.

Update: Rwanda 2013 Student Trip: Information Meeting

The Anne Frank Project will hold a general information meeting for its 2013 trip to Rwanda on Tuesday, May 8, at 5:00 p.m. in Savage Communication and Theater Building 209.

Students who traveled to Rwanda in January 2012 will join Drew Kahn to answer questions and to provide an overview of their African journey and their experiences. Interested students are encouraged to attend and bring their questions.

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